PZI Teacher Archives

awakening

Video January 2, 2024

Three Vipassani Find Koans: Susan Pollak, Doug Phillips & Ewen Arnold in conversation with Jon Joseph

Jon Joseph

Jon Joseph hosts a lively panel discussion with three members of our PZI sangha whose practice and teaching includes Vipassana and Koan Zen. He asks, How have you found koan work to be similar to or different from Vipassana? What Vipassana techniques do you bring into your Zen teaching?

73' 40"
Video November 3, 2023

Fall Sesshin: Bright Virtue – Bankei’s Awakening

Tess Beasley

Bankei’s awakening came through facing his aversion to death. His question, “What is bright virtue?” brought him to Zen early in life. Later, he became one with the field and could fully see whatever he encountered. As your life becomes more whole, everything comes to belong.

45' 2"
Text November 2, 2023

The Way Things Are Is Mysterious and Hard to See

Allison Atwill, Jesse Cardin, Tess Beasley

Allison, Tess and Jesse lead us into the heart of PZI practice—what it means to take refuge, how to work with vows as koans, and how, at its root, our life in itself before we’ve improved it is an expression of the Bodhisattva Way.

7365 Words
Audio November 1, 2023

Fall Sesshin: Bright Virtue – Bankei’s Awakening

Tess Beasley

Bankei’s awakening came through facing his aversion to death. His question, “What is bright virtue?” brought him to Zen early in life. Later, he became one with the field and could fully see whatever he encountered. As your life becomes more whole, everything comes to belong.

45' 2"
Text October 30, 2023

You Can’t Cage a Koan – Make It a Raft!

John Tarrant, PZI Teachers

In the Blue Dragon’s cave, everything is there. If you think you haven’t seen a dragon, you may be wrong. In fact, who says you’re not a dragon? And if you think you don’t know about koans, you may be wrong, too. Who says you’re not a koan? Transcript of a dharma talk in Summer Sesshin 2020.

9009 Words

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Dharma Theme October 30, 2023

Dharma Theme: Stop Suffering!

PZI Teachers

We’re always looking for a recipe or data points to get a handle on happiness. The most profoundly simple but difficult challenge is to let ourselves transform into ourselves. We imagine a different, better self “after awakening.” Every stroke, even the most difficult or painful, is part of the piece. Our journey through suffering transforms everything, including the destination.

36 Words
Audio October 24, 2023

Fall Retreat: Feeling the Bath

Jesse Cardin

All the ways we try to get out of awakening! It becomes a real burden, to not let some piece of life touch me or penetrate. These things become very clear in retreat; it becomes hard to ignore what’s there. And all the efforts to snare it, charm it, or steal it from someone else, including a past or future versions of oneself … despite these efforts, we can’t hold off awakening.

24' 48"
Video October 24, 2023

Fall Retreat: Feeling the Bath

Jesse Cardin

All the ways we try to get out of awakening! It becomes a real burden, to not let some piece of life touch me. These things become very clear in retreat; it becomes hard to ignore what’s there. And all the efforts to snare it, charm it, or steal it from someone else, including a past or future versions of oneself … despite these efforts, we can’t hold off awakening.

24' 47"

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Dharma Theme August 1, 2023

Dharma Theme: Friendships & Meetings – Relationships in the Dao, Then & Now

PZI Teachers

Zen is about meeting—we make friends with each koan and allow the universe to work with and through us. The sweetness, and even the gnarly bits of friendship are part of the intimacy at the center of meeting. In the field of connectedness we discover things we can’t discover on our own.

180 Words
Text July 26, 2023

Carried in the Dark – On Lostness & the Spiral Path of Practice

John Tarrant

I’ve been thinking that everybody needs to start by being lost. And that the Dharma is a spiral path. It will happen again, and then again, and then again. So, when you are lost, instead of thinking, “This is an abnormal, wrong situation,” that’s what koans give us—they say, “Oh, well, I’m lost, fortunately. I don’t know what I’m doing.” 

4196 Words
Text June 28, 2023

Falling Into the Well of Sesshin

John Tarrant

The nice thing about falling is it’s already happened, you know? It started already; there’s not much you can do about it. So you’re kind of free, in a way. It’s sort of like being condemned: Knowing you’ll die tomorrow—well, you can do anything you want tonight.

4081 Words
Text June 23, 2023

We Are Interwoven

John Tarrant

It’s a noble thing to gather together for the Dharma. It has hidden effects, that if we thought about it from afar, we’d think, Ah, I don’t know. But when we’re together, we can feel, Oh, yeah, it’s happening. I can feel it in my heart and my soul and my fingers.

3004 Words

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Dharma Theme June 9, 2023

Dharma Theme: Meeting the Inconceivable

PZI Teachers

What you can conceive of might take away your life. On the other hand, what you cannot conceive of will give you your life.

144 Words

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Dharma Theme March 29, 2023

Dharma Theme: Tea Ladies, Hermits, & Other Strange Teachers Along the Way

PZI Teachers

To meet a Tea Lady was always a somewhat risky proposition. Usually, in koan-ville, an unsuspecting traveler hurrying on their way somewhere else—consumed with their own knowledge and problems— would encounter a tiny wayside establishment with a deeply mysterious proprietor on hand.

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Text March 26, 2023

Falling with the Koan NO

John Tarrant

John Tarrant gives a talk on Zhaozhou’s NO: This koan is often offered as a first “gate,” but I think you need to already be in trouble and falling before it’s useful. Life is always offering us that cliff—that door of falling. When you’re falling, you can’t screw it up because actually there’s not a lot you can do. But what you do will be very free and won’t be constrained by the usual. From a recording made in Fall Sesshin 2022.

5207 Words

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Dharma Theme March 22, 2023

Dharma Theme: In the Wild – Mountain Koans & Poems

PZI Teachers

Eventually you come to a place where you can’t go on and you can’t go back. You have arrived at the base of cliffs; you can’t scale them, you can’t get around them, and there’s no handy tunnel through them. It’s a daunting place—that’s the point of it. And when you arrive here your life and your journey can become your own.

23 Words

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Dharma Theme March 15, 2023

Dharma Theme: Baizhang’s Fox – Cause & Effect in a Fox Life

PZI Teachers

How many lifetimes do we spend in our fox suits? They are not wasted. All forms are part of the lively package of existence. Turning words and sudden awakenings even from long-suffering can appear anywhere and in the most unexpected ways. 

0 Words
Video February 14, 2023

Great Silence at the Beginning: Shelter for the Homeless Person

Michelle Riddle

In trying hard to find home, Michelle realizes that everything is happening on a deeper level, in great silence. Everything is always coming through—our role is to notice without manipulating the situation. 17-minute excerpt from January Sunday Zen, Part 4.

16' 48"
Video February 14, 2023
15' 28"
Audio February 14, 2023

A Story of Finding and Reaching

John Tarrant

John Tarrant tells a story of finding and reaching. 24-minute excerpt from Sunday Zen on Boxing Day 2023.

24' 21"
Video February 8, 2023

Great Silence at the Beginning: Life Is Like Kissing

Michelle Riddle

An excerpt from Part 4 of Great Silence at the Beginning on January 29, 2023. Michelle Riddle reads a poem written by John Tarrant for the dedication of a new healing center.

2' 8"
Video February 7, 2023

Great Silence at the Beginning: Buddha’s Immovable Seat

Allison Atwill

No management of the universe is necessary. Effort does not help. Buddha’s story starts with ‘everything’ achieved, and acknowledges the longing and sorrow that can not be assuaged by getting things. Buddha in awakening sits in the immovable seat at the center—all included—even Mara. Talk from January Sunday Zen, Part 3.

19' 30"
Video February 7, 2023

Great Silence at the Beginning: Resting in the Silence

Allison Atwill

No management of the universe is necessary. Effort does not help. Buddha’s story starts with ‘everything’ achieved, and acknowledges the longing and sorrow that can not be assuaged by getting things. Buddha in awakening sits in the immovable seat at the center—all included—even Mara. Talk from January Sunday Zen, Part 3.

18' 29"
Audio February 7, 2023

Great Silence at the Beginning: The Morning Star & The Immovable Seat

Allison Atwill

No management of the universe is necessary. Effort does not help. Buddha’s story starts with ‘everything’ achieved, and acknowledges the longing and sorrow that can not be assuaged by getting things. Buddha in awakening sits in the immovable seat at the center—all included—even Mara. Talk from January Sunday Zen, Part 3.

74' 29"
Video November 1, 2022

Ancestral Stories: Our Ancestors Are Within Us

Tess Beasley

What is my piece in this patchwork inheritance? We are complicated—we don’t always know what qualities and histories inhabit us. We come into these lineages in mystery…maybe the lineages find us. Our koan lineage is one of moments of awakening, passed down. Excerpt from Ancestral Stories Retreat on October 30, 2022. 19 minutes.

19' 8"
Audio October 24, 2022

Fall Sesshin 2022: Falling with the Koan NO

John Tarrant

When you are falling, there is not a lot you can do about it, but you are no longer constrained by your usual preoccupations. Awakening, too, is in the category of things you can’t do anything about. Sesshin’s Gate 3 is NO—or Mu—the famous dharmakaya koan that opens the body of reality. NO casts away all the consciousness you have had until now. Music with Jordan McConnell, closing words with Allison Atwill from the story of The Little Prince. Complete session recorded October 6, 2022.

54' 13"
Audio October 24, 2022

Fall Sesshin 2022: Falling with NO

John Tarrant

When you are falling, there is not a lot you can do about it, but you are no longer constrained by your usual preoccupations. Awakening too, is in the category of things you can’t do anything about. The apparatus of certainty is circumvented and the universe is manifesting and unfolding through us. Excerpt from a sesshin dharma talk recorded October 6, 2022.

19' 40"
Video July 29, 2022

Forms of Awakening

John Tarrant

Kensho is a real thing—and you can’t pin it down. Awakening takes many and varied forms. Long to really understand reality, and have the joy of that. From a talk given during Summer Sesshin on June 17, 2022. 12 minutes.

12' 7"
Video July 14, 2022
27' 26"
Video June 19, 2022

Magical Meetings: Encountering Your Own True Self

John Tarrant

John Tarrant on a meeting past midnight with an old familiar face that you may or may not recognize right off. When there is no moon and you can’t find your way in the usual way, you are bound to have some unusual encounters. Stories, readings, comments, and music for meditation from Michael Wilding and Jordan McConnell. Complete Sunday Session recorded on June 12, 2022.

70' 34"

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